January 26, 2009 / 4:33 AM / 9 years ago

China's "alternative" New Year's show founders

BEIJING (Reuters) - An amateur alternative to Central China Television’s annual Lunar New Year’s Eve gala failed to reach its audience, as the online program proved inaccessible to most would-be viewers.

The ‘Shanzhai’ show, billed as a grassroots alternative to the glitzy and propaganda-heavy extravaganza by state-owned CCTV, was supposed to air online Sunday night on China Countryside TV and through Macao Asia satellite TV.

Would-be viewers posed a series of complaints that the download was too slow, kept cutting off or was ‘blanking out’ on the website (www.ccstv.net).

China’s internet police routinely block or inhibit access to websites deemed politically inconvenient or sensitive, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether Shanzhai was blocked or suffered a technical glitch.

The show’s creator, Lao Meng, told state news agency Xinhua

he did not know the reason for the outage.

“Maybe too many people were logging on the website,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Those who managed to see the pre-recorded show had mixed reviews.

“It looked like a piece of community theater,” said an article on portal xinming.net which panned the show.

“I saw a bit of it, it wasn’t bad. Anyway, I didn’t go look at CCTV,” said an anonymous poster who responded to the article.

Other posters also praised the show’s effort to give an alternative to CCTV, which garners almost 400 million viewers even though it is generally derided by younger Chinese as hokey and stodgy.

One Beijinger said he hadn’t tried to see the show.

“My parents still want to watch the normal boring one.”

Reporting by Lucy Hornby and Niu Shuping

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